A growing body of evidence, which includes recently released research, suggests that there might be quite a few benefits of hallucinogens for mental health disorders including depression and anxiety. In fact, according to Science Daily, research that was recently presented by the American Psychological Association (APA) points to how psychedelic drugs could one day actually be used to treat disorders including social anxiety and depression.
Since the effects of Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), also known as acid, were first discovered in the 1940s and it became widely used and known as the drug of choice of hippies, it was also closely studied by scientists for its potential healing effects. However, research was stalled in the 1960s when psychedelics were made illegal. Now, the study of drugs largely thought of as recreational is making a comeback, with scientists conducting clinical trials with MDMA, more commonly referred to as ecstasy, to gain approval for treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
“Combined with psychotherapy, some psychedelic drugs like MDMA, psilocybin and ayahuasca may improve symptoms of anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder,” said Cristina L. Magalhaes, PhD, in the release. “More research and discussion are needed to understand the possible benefits of these drugs, and psychologists can help navigate the clinical, ethical and cultural issues related to their use.”
Findings from one study on the effects of MDMA on autistic adults were were presented at the APA symposium and suggest that social anxiety in autistic adults could be treated through a combination of MDMA and psychotherapy. Researchers conducted a study on twelve autistic adults who experience moderate to severe social anxiety, with two different treatments of pure MDMA in conjunction with therapy resulted in significant and “long-lasting reductions in their symptoms,” according to the APA.
Other research presented at the APA conference explored how LSD and ayahuasca might also help to improve symptoms of people struggling with anxiety, depression, eating disorders, and how ayahuasca, specifically, can help those coping with trauma. The use of hallucinogens including magic mushrooms and ayahuasca has historically been related to spirituality. And one study presented at the conference was noted as reinforcing the need for professionals in the psychological field to consider a “larger role for spirituality in the context of mainstream treatment because spiritual growth and a connection to something greater than the self can be fostered,” according to Adele Lafrance, PhD, who spoke about the study. Researchers and doctors are now calling for more research to be done to fully understand the implications of using psychedelics in treatment, and to analyze both the legal and ethical issues surrounding the drugs.
While drugs might be clinically prescribed by some doctors to treat disorders like social anxiety or depression, clinical doses are different than self-medicating, and it’s important to know the difference. There can be dangerous consequences of using more than one substance, and self-prescribing to treat health issues. “Certain drugs, when used properly, may have benefits for some people, and it’s still it’s important to know the facts versus the myths.
If you or someone you know is struggling with substance use, text Crisis Text Line at 741-741 or go here to learn exactly how to help a friend.
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